German composer Karl Amadeus Hartmann was born on this day in 1905.
Despite being largely overlooked in many English-speaking countries, he is often lauded as one of the greatest German symphonists of the 20th century. He drew musical influences from composers of the Western canon — including Bach, Mahler, and Hindemith — as well as everything from jazz to expressionism.
His compositions were often politically charged, as Hartmann was a socialist who staunchly opposed the Nazis and fascism. During World War II, Hartmann half-poisoned himself to avoid military conscription.
His music's characterization is "atonal" and "degenerate."Hartmann wrote eight symphonies and a number of works for violin, piano, and small ensembles, many of which powerfully lamented World War II. One such work, his "Concerto Funebre" for violin and string orchestra — originally titled "Musik der Trauer," or "music of mourning" — was written in protest of Hitler's occupation of Prague.